The goals of the OpenStack initiative are to support interoperability between cloud services and allow businesses to build Amazon-like cloud services in their own data centers. OpenStack, which is freely available under the Apache 2.0 license, is often referred to in the media as "the Linux of the Cloud" and is compared to Eucalyptus and the Apache CloudStack project, two other open source cloud initiatives.
OpenStack has a modular architecture that currently has eleven components:
Nova - provides virtual machines (VMs) upon demand.
Glance - provides a catalog and repository for virtual disk images.
Horizon - provides a modular web-based user interface (UI) for OpenStack services.
Ceilometer - provides a single point of contact for billing systems.
Heat - provides orchestration services for multiple composite cloud applications.
Sahara - provides data processing services for OpenStack-managed resources.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) worked with Rackspace, a managed hosting and cloud computing service provider, to develop OpenStack. RackSpace donated the code that powers its storage and content delivery service (Cloud Files) and production servers (Cloud Servers). NASA contributed the technology that powers Nebula, their high performance computing, networking and data storage cloud service that allows researchers to work with large scientific data sets.
OpenStack officially became an independent non-profit organization in September 2012. The OpenStack community, which is overseen by a board of directors, is comprised of many direct and indirect competitors, including IBM, Intel and VMware.